Thursday, 14 March 2013

Cycle cop turns psychopath in may I kill U?

may I kill U?

Cycle cop turns psychopath

Bicycling beat bobby Baz Vartis (Kevin Bishop) is a well-meaning but ineffectual community policeman with the kind of mother, Bernice (Frances Barber), Norman Bates would find it tough to love.  Longing for adventure, for action, he dreams of detective work, of shooting it out with real bad guys but is relegated to pounding the streets on his bike and attending community meetings in the company of his formidable partner, WPC Val Stone (Hayley-Marie Axe).

On the virtual eve of 2011’s London Riots, during a scuffle with some local thugs, Baz sustains a personality-changing head injury, turning the mild-mannered cycle cop into a psychopath.  As London descends into anarchy, Baz hits the streets, intent on dealing out his own brand of justice, starting with the thug who caused his head injury whose brutal murder he films on his helmet-cam, posting the anonymous footage on social networking sites and becoming an Internet sensation.

Adopting the online persona @N4cethelaw, Baz soon finds his anonymous vigilantism has turned him into a folk hero and he embarks on his own personal crusade, murdering the lawbreakers who cross his path regardless of their crime; wife beaters, Eastern European sex traffickers, elderly shoplifters, all are equal under the law according to Baz and deserve to die.  But with Val getting suspicious, Bernice becoming increasingly unhinged and petty thief Seth (Jack Doolan) out for revenge, time may be running out for our vigilante hero…

A film that’s as schizophrenic as its lead character, writer/director Stuart Urban’s (Preaching To The Perverted, Revelation) black comedy may I kill U? may be riding the zeitgeist as it touches on civil disorder, middle class paranoia, Internet celebrity and happy slapping videos but its abrupt lurches in tone from slapstick comedy to splattery gore and brutal violence are jarring, almost as if the Carry On... team were remaking Taxi Driver or Death Wish.  It's not as funny as it thinks it is, its TV sitcom look and feel (particularly with the onscreen tweets and texts) calling to mind the short-lived mediocrity of Pete Versus Life (a TV sitcom in which Rafe Spall’s doofus sports reporter’s life is punctuated by football commentary).  However this British coziness is somewhat at odds with the explicit violence (particularly that first head bashing) of Baz’s mission.  The performances are good, particularly Kevin Bishop who’s more dipstick than Dexter, but may I kill U? feels like it probably started out much darker, particularly in Baz’s quasi-incestuous mother/son relationship, before being toned down for public consumption though its inclusion of a trafficked Eastern European woman (beautiful Polish actress Kasia Koleczek) as a mute, submissive romantic interest for Baz and the film’s hysterical, middle class (verging on Daily Mail reader) fear of the underclass do leave a nasty taste in the mouth.  With the over-rated Sightseers already in cinemas, it’s inevitable the two will be compared.  While neither as funny or accomplished, may i kill U? may be the more pertinent of the two.  

David Watson

Directed by:
Written by:
Produced by:
Comedy, Horror, Thriller
1 hour 27 minutes
UK Cinema Release Date:
Friday 11th January 2013

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